An Indiana startup aimed at transporting vaccines to low-income countries won the Crossroads Pitch Competition Oct. 18, potentially securing thousands of dollars worth of funding.
ArcticRx, a pharmaceutical transportation company, won $10,000, according to a press release by The Mill, a coworking and entrepreneurship center in Bloomington. It also won a package of startup and business services and priority consideration for a second competition where ArcticRx can pitch for an additional $20,000.
ArcticRx gives 21 or more days of ultra-low temperature storage, which is five times that of competitors, co-founder Shane Bivens said. It offers a reusable, low-cost pod that uses dry ice and does not use electricity or batteries.
During his pitch for Crossroads, Bivens said the driving factor for their startup was seeing the number of deaths in low-income countries that do not have easy access to vaccines.
ArcticRx’s mission is to provide safe and secure transit for vaccines to rural areas, co-founder Stuart Lowry said. Rolls-Royce engineers in Indianapolis helped Lowry and Bivens develop ArcticRx's ultra low-temperature shipping coolers. Its innovative shipping pods are made to solve the issue of temperature regulation when transporting medicines requiring a stable environment.
According to its website, the Crossroads Pitch Competition is a showcase of Indiana-based entrepreneurs run by The Mill. The competition's goal is to build up Indiana's entrepreneurs by assisting in the success of early-stage startups.
According to the release, the Crossroads Pitch Competition is open to any Indiana-based startup with less than $250,000 in annual recurring revenue.
“ArcticRx blew us away, and they faced tough competition,” Andy Lehman, head of accelerator programming for The Mill, said in the release. "Indiana is bursting with innovation, and the quality of the pitches this year was outstanding."
Transporting vaccines to low-income countries is a large priority for ArcticRx, Bivens said, and supplying food is the next step. With ArcticRx, a product could be shipped from Indiana to the Congo, driven to a medical clinic with time left to give out vaccinations or food supply, he said.
"We look at ArcticRx as something that could really change the way that pharma is distributed as well as the way food is distributed,” Bivens said.
Only about 3.1% of low-income countries have been given a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday, according to Our World in Data. He said almost all vaccines only have about three to five days of passive temperature stabilization before they need another recharge.
The use of ArcticRx provides access to products ranging from pharmaceuticals to food with a way to keep these products at a stable temperature for long amounts of time, Lowry said.
"Winning the Crossroad's Pitch Competition is a dramatic milestone for us as hometown boys," Lowry said. "We didn't think we'd be at a crossroads to the world, but this allows us to do that."